By FRANK CARINI
Climate-change deniers are selfish, or possibly scared. The debate they have managed to manufacture is artificial, like much of the food we consume. It’s fake news.
Whatever you want to call it — climate change, global warming, overpopulation — humans, in a short period of cosmic time, have had a tremendous impact on the planet, its climate and its ecosystems. Much of it to the detriment of life.
To think 7.5 billion people, plus the more than 100 billion who have come and gone, haven’t had an impact is the very definition of denial. Why can’t we admit it and work to lessen the impact. The answer, sadly, is simple: greed. Sacrifice is for someone else.
We spew some 9.5 gigatons of global greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil fuels into the atmosphere annually. We’ve done so for decades. One gigaton is equivalent to a billion metric tons, or more than 100 million African elephants or 6 million blue whales. If you think all that accumulating pollution isn’t having an impact on the planet, on the climate, you are divorced from reality. Pull your head out of the tar sands.
Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, which we generate in abundance, are altering the climate, changing ocean chemistry and helping the seas rise. Science doesn’t lie. But politicians, CEOs and Big Business frequently do.
Diversity created the planet on which we live, and we have spent our limited existence on this sphere stamping it out, for short-term individual gain.
Our hubris led directly to the demise of passenger pigeons, Carolina parakeets and great auks, to name but a few. We have overfished and trashed the oceans. We felled cypress forests to sell mulch. New Orleans drowned as a result.
We treat the planet and life on it as if it is a free all-you-can-eat buffet. Profit trumps life. Drill, mountain mine and blast, baby.
Climate-change deniers like to argue that the planet’s rising seas and changing climate are just part of a natural cycle. They’re correct, but they also like to ignore the fact our activities play a major role. We’re changing and speeding up the process. We’re putting future generations at risk, and destroying life-creating/sustaining natural systems.
We’ve replaced natural coastal buffers, such as salt marshes and mangroves, with homes, roads, restaurants and tourist attractions, making our built-up shorelines vulnerable to storm surge, flooding and erosion. We're currently filling runoff-capturing wetlands to build another Rhode Island casino.
We dynamite and bleach coral reefs to capture fish for aquariums. We poach rhinos and elephants for their ivory. We slaughter sharks for their fins. None of these ongoing massacres are required for our survival.
We support diversity-killing monoculture so multinationals can control the world’s food supply. We poison water resources to save money or make money.
The only way to get better is to admit we're having an impact, a bigly one. We need to be educated and conscious consumers. We need to be stewards, not mindless devourers. It requires sacrifice.
Frank Carini is the ecoRI News editor.